What to Wear When You Work From Home: The New Virtual Reality

In the ever-changing landscape of our lives, personal style undergoes transformations, reflecting shifts in routines and surroundings. Since 2020, the professional realm has embraced the virtual, and the challenge of maintaining a stylish yet comfortable wardrobe has become a shared experience.

Recognizing changes in lifestyle and work climate is crucial. It’s more than adapting to a new workplace; it’s understanding how your surroundings shape your fashion choices. Think of it as a metamorphosis—shedding the unnecessary formality of your previous work style while maintaining a businesslike demeanor.

As a work-from-home mother for the past 20 years, I understand the struggle of wanting to exude style without compromising on comfort. Feeling ‘blah’ in one’s look resonates deeply, as attire influences mood and productivity.  So how can you infuse sophistication into your work-from-home attire, balancing comfort and professionalism?

Adapting Your Style to the Work-from-Home Environment

Your style journey is a narrative that unfolds with each style choice. This is why the first step in my 7 Steps to Style program helps you define yourself and how you want to be perceived. It enables you to create an authentic personal brand image that feels natural, not like a costume.

Traditional pinstriped suits can make way for more relaxed blazers and jackets, allowing for both comfort and a touch of professionalism. The key lies in creating a virtual work wardrobe that effortlessly finds the sweet spot between laid-back and businesslike, reflecting the balance you seek in this new virtual work landscape.

Crafting a work-from-home wardrobe involves more than just aesthetics; it’s about the feel of the fabrics against your skin. Identify materials that not only align with your aesthetic but also offer ease for a home-based work setting. Understanding the tactile experience each fabric provides is essential in curating a wardrobe that feels as good as it looks. To enhance your selection process, create a list of favorite fabrics based on comfort, wearability, and washability. After all, you don’t want to be making a special trip to the dry cleaners or spending more time than necessary hand washing delicate fabrics.

Additionally, accessories hold the power to transform a simple outfit into a statement. On laid-back days, a bold accessory has been my savior, elevating my virtual presence without compromising comfort. It’s about discovering the power of accessories in this virtual realm. Whether it’s a unique necklace, a stylish scarf, or a pair of statement earrings, these additions not only enhance your style but also serve practical purposes, making your virtual presence just as captivating as an in-person meeting.  When you are only a small box on a screen, and all that is seen is your portrait area, you want to ensure that what is seen really makes people focus on you.

6 Tips on What to Wear on Your Video Conference Meetings

What to wear working from home

  1. Avoid statement earrings if you wear earbuds or headphones with a microphone attached, they can rub against them and create extraneous noise.
  2. Avoid low necklines on video conference calls as they can appear lower and more distracting.  End tops at the breastbone or higher.
  3. Bold patterns can make you stand out from the crowd, as can bolder colours.
  4. Use jewellery to create interest and add additional colours to your outfits.
  5. Look for fabrics with ease and stretch if they’re fitted so that you’re comfortable.
  6. Wearing a garment with a collar, a blouse, or  jacket, makes any outfit appear more professional.

work from home wardrobe - wear a collared shirt with your jeans for a professional look on camera for your meetings

Here’s an example of a shirt with jeans outfit that is ideal for a work-from-home appropriate setting.

Crafting a Virtual Work Wardrobe Suited to Your New Environment

In the journey of adapting your style to a new environment, the climate plays a pivotal role in shaping your wardrobe choices. It’s not merely about fashion; it’s about ensuring your comfort aligns seamlessly with the weather’s unpredictability. Your home office may not have air conditioning like the office did, so investing in versatile pieces becomes a strategic choice.

Firstly, consider wardrobe staples like cardigans or light jackets that can easily adapt to temperature fluctuations. These pieces not only provide functional layering but also add a touch of style to your ensemble. They become the go-to solutions for the ever-changing conditions, allowing you to effortlessly transition throughout the day.

Be careful with colour, black clothes can have you fading away into your black desk chair so appear to have a floating head, whilst white can blow out on the screen.  Small patterns can seem to vibrate, but larger patterns and bolder colours can work really well to give you impact and presence on screen (check out more tips here).

Consider fabrics that suit the temperature, whether it’s breathable materials for warmer climates or cozy, warm fabrics for colder regions. Additionally, by aligning your clothing choices with the climate, you not only enhance your comfort but also make a statement that harmonizes with the environment around you.

In crafting a wardrobe suited to your new surroundings, think in terms of seasons. Create seasonal wardrobes that accommodate climate changes. This involves a thoughtful rotation of clothing items based on the shifting weather patterns. Not only is it a practical approach; it’s a way of staying attuned to nature’s rhythms, ensuring your style remains relevant and comfortable throughout the year.  This also gives you more variety in your style, so you don’t become bored with your wardrobe.

In the world of online shopping, where choices are made virtually, embracing the return policy is a crucial aspect of crafting a wardrobe suited to your new environment. Opt to purchase from retailers with easy return policies, allowing you the flexibility to make decisions without the fear of commitment. If an item doesn’t align with your expectations, don’t hesitate to send it back. Treat online shopping as a fitting room experience, recognizing that not everything will make the final cut, and that’s perfectly fine. This approach ensures that your wardrobe evolves with you, reflecting your changing tastes and needs in your newfound environment.

Observing Local Styles for Inspiration

As you embark on the quest to refine your personal style, a key step is to open your eyes to the world around you. Take a moment to look around, absorbing the local styles that permeate your environment. The streets become a runway of inspiration, showcasing the diverse fashion choices of the community. Notice the subtle nuances, the colour palettes, and the unique combinations that define the local style landscape.  Sit in a cafe sipping your favourite beverage and notice those around you and what they’re wearing.  It can inspire you to try something new.

In the virtual realm, online platforms become your treasure trove of inspiration. From Instagram to Pinterest, the digital landscape is rich with fashion possibilities waiting to be discovered. Spend time exploring the profiles of style influencers and fashion enthusiasts who share their unique perspectives. These platforms offer a global window into diverse styles, expanding your horizons and opening your mind to a myriad of fashion choices.

Your Style, Your Rules

Finally, in the age of remote work, your style journey is a reflection of your growth and adaptability. Don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun with your style as you navigate the ever-evolving landscape of work-from-home fashion.

Don’t forget, that you want to make sure that what is seen on camera is work-appropriate, it may not have to be as formal as what you used to wear to the office, but don’t let your style get too sloppy and haphazard because you’re working from home.  Research shows that what you wear impacts how you feel and dressing well indicates to yourself that you’re feeling confident and in control.


© 2024 Academy of Professional Image

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